Margaret Clay for From the Editor



Camaraderie by a fire provides such simple yet profound contentment. Whether you are roasting hot dogs and s’mores around a campfire, chatting with friends around the backyard fire pit (also known as a cave man’s TV), or enjoying an indoor fire lit for a party, fires evoke a certain soothing ambiance in any scenario. They offer a primal pleasure from their warmth, the dancing flames, and the dazzling, ever-changing patterns in the glowing embers.

That is, unless Mother Nature objects.

Once at a seated dinner party, as we lit the first fire of the season, an angry family of indignant wasps came hurtling out of the chimney to wage a fierce battle against their inconsiderate assailants. This, in turn, caused a hurtling back of chairs as we all dove under the table, all decorum cast asunder. Thankfully, the stinger-laden insects proved to be sufficiently stunned from the smoke and settled on the tops of the windows, allowing everyone a peaceful continuance of the evening, albeit with an occasional glance up.

Many families enjoy the tradition of teaching children how to make s’mores, and ours was no exception. However, we did have an added complication in that as toddlers, my sisters and I did not initially like marshmallows. Rather than simply moving on to the chocolate, I made myself consume the hot, gooey mouthful and then reach to roast another so I too could “enjoy” this favorite pastime around the fire. I then had the pleasure of witnessing my sisters go through the same familial initiation as 3-year-olds of forcing themselves to eat marshmallow after marshmallow with contorted grimaces until acquiring the taste. Now, as a roasted marshmallow devotee, I must concur with the religious detail described by Jimbo Haynes in “The Birds, the Bees, and Chimney Disease” on page 82 on the proper due process for crafting a true s’more.

For more sophisticated repast in anticipation of Thanksgiving, glean ideas for entertaining with freshly harvested wild game from local experts in “Wild about Game” on page 54. Tired of your usual venison or dove recipes? Try Michael Boozer’s reverse seared venison loin or Ben Myers’ bacon-wrapped dove poppers. Then, for dessert, read Susan Slack’s article on page 42 for creative twists on fall-flavored baking. I heartily recommend her five-spice carrot cake and cranberry plum streusel bars! And for tips on crafting the perfect centerpiece for this incredible meal, look no further than Melissa Andrews’ article on page 66 with step-by-step instructions from Cricket Newman and Sarah Swinson Shell on creating a stunning autumnal focal point for your table.

From your s’mores gathering around the fire to a seated dinner around an elegant white linen tablecloth, we extend you all our best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!




Darius Rucker, Jim Sonefeld, Dean Felber, and Mark Bryan have not forgotten about the community that embraced their careers when they formed Hootie & the Blowfish in 1986 in Columbia. The four met as freshmen at the University of South Carolina and became one of the most popular American rock bands in the 1990s, experiencing platinum albums and a Grammy Award win.

Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation logoThe band members created an endowment that ensures the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation will last into perpetuity by providing financial support to charitable initiatives throughout South Carolina and beyond. In October, Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation awarded $90,000 to three South Carolina non-profits benefitting child welfare and youth arts programs. They are:

  • Epworth Children’s Home’s Epworth’s Family Care Center, which is a program allowing mothers and their children to stay together while receiving treatment as a whole family.
  • Abbeville County School District’s Putting Students First, One Beat at a Time, which is a program to assist the district’s schools with purchasing musical instruments for students who have an interest in band.
  • Dillon School District Four’s Stayin’ the Chorus, which is a program to send choral students to regional performances and competitions and help with the purchase of a music classroom mat.

The Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation has awarded more than $2.9 million in grants since its creation in 2000. Hootie & the Blowfish established their donor-advised fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ center for philanthropy, to strengthen the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation’s philanthropic efforts.  The Community Foundation acts as a centralized point of contact for all grant requests and manages its grant administration, evaluation, outreach, and distribution.


Lexington Medical Center Event Honors Breast Cancer Survivors and Families

By Deena C. Bouknight

On October 16th, 800 are expected to attend an evening out hosted by Lexington Medical Center. As a way of honoring women who have survived breast cancer, as well as families and friends who have supported them, “Women’s Night Out” will take place at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in downtown Columbia.

Ariella Hughes is this year’s event’s keynote speaker. Ariella will share her journey of being diagnosed with breast cancer twice, and she will detail how the experience helped her to “live beyond better.”Ariella_Hughes049.JPG

The schedule for “Women’s Night Out” includes: at 5 p.m., a silent auction and physician exhibit; the program begins at 7 p.m. with a fashion show featuring breast cancer survivors, dinner, and the keynote address.

Proceeds from “Women’s Night Out” will benefit the Crystal Smith Breast Cancer Fund to support the “Campaign for Clarity,” a capital campaign designed to expand 3-D mammography throughout the Lexington Medical Center network of care. Annually, Lexington Medical Center diagnoses more than 300 breast cancer patients.

For more information about “Women’s Night Out,” call (803) 936-8850, or visit Individual tickets are $40, but there are also opportunities to sponsor a table.


Margaret Clay for From the Editor

Heritage and History

BY Margaret Clay

On rainy days as a child, I would sometimes amuse myself by looking through the old family books in my parents’ library in search of the earliest copyright date in the house. The patinaed, worn leather of 19th century spines filled with delicate, foxed pages acted like a time machine on my senses and whirled me back through the ages as I wondered whose fingers had graced these same pages for the first time. Old books still hold for me a kind of magic, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about them and their proper care from experts like David Hodges featured in Aïda Rogers’ article on page 46.

Like most children, I also grew up with a fascination for ghost stories, though I was limited in my permitted exposure to them (my mother was too smart to risk her sleep to my inevitable nightmares). The tradition of ghost stories crosses all cultures, and South Carolinians show no exception in exhibiting humanity’s intrinsic delight in the macabre. For an entertaining sampling of our local and statewide spectral legends to stimulate your Halloween spirit, read Janet Scouten’s article on page 42.

Another article in this issue highlighting history and traditions is Deena Bouknight’s story about the St. Paul Campground tent revival that has been taking place every October since 1880, timed for a celebration of the harvest. This week of fellowship and worship was established by Little Salem A.M.E. Church, and fifth generation descendants still carry on their forefathers’ practice of song, prayer, laughter, and good food to this day. Read more about their inspiring heritage on page 64.

Lastly, Susan Slack shares the exotic traditions of fermenting food from all around the world, hearkening back to as early as the Stone Age. While the Korean dish of kimchi is perhaps what first comes to mind (and indeed, she has provided a fantastic recipe!), most people unwittingly consume fermented food every day, from sourdough bread to yogurt, olives, or even hot sauce. Learn how to harness safely the hitherto unwanted kitchen guests of mold, bacteria, and fungus for a surprisingly appetizing and healthy cuisine from across the globe on page 98.

Whatever your family history and heritage, we wish you a very festive (and traditional!) October.

WALK for Palmetto Health Breast Center

Don pink and participate

By Deena C. Bouknight

Every fall, a sea of pink parades through Columbia. Hundreds, in fact, will participate in this year’s 28th annual Walk for Life and Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon, 5K and 10K, held Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Each year’s event helps fund equipment, technology, and/or supplies needed for the Palmetto Health Breast Center at Richland. Proceeds from this event stay in the greater Columbia community to help fund an Upright Stereotactic Breast Biopsy room, with 3D mammography technology as well as educational materials, breast bears, and post-mastectomy camisoles. So far, nearly $9.5 million has been raised through this event for Palmetto Health Breast Center. 

The event will begin and end at Spirit Communications Park, 1640 Freed Drive in Columbia.  Register at Registration includes a bright pink cotton t-shirt for walkers and a bright pink performance shirt for runners. Breast cancer survivors will receive a commemorative pink hat.

Nearly 40,000 mammograms are performed annually at Palmetto Health Breast Center. One of last year’s event speakers, Adrienne Wright, first learned she had cancer in her late 20s after she had a mammogram. She was treated at Palmetto Health Breast Center and not only partipcates in the October event, but also encourages women to schedule annual mammograms.

To learn more, visit


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I Scream, You Scream

I absolutely love fly fishing. For this sea loving lady, saltwater fly fishing is particularly exciting. Thus, I was quite keen on every aspect of the outstanding article Oliver Hartner wrote on the subject for this issue.

As I read Oliver’s descriptions about Columbians who have the opportunity to fish on a regular basis, I could only smile — with a twinge of envy. And then I wondered if such regular pursuits might not, once and for all, help me overcome my weird, if not embarrassing, reaction when I hook a large fish. And that is I scream. I mean the kind of scream that has caused grown men on boats with me to drop their rods. I always think my last scream is just that, my last scream. I delude myself into thinking I’ve moved past that out of body reaction that puts Henry, my husband, into hysterics and startles my three daughters, every time.

Some years ago, I went on a trip to Belize with my dear friend, Jenny Walker, to fly fish for bonefish. We arrived at Turneffe Island and met Dubs, our guide for the next few days. Jenny poked me in my side. “Should you tell him that you scream?”

With complete confidence, “No,” I replied. “I don’t scream any more. Maybe we should tell him you won’t wade fish in water deeper than your knees because you’re scared of barracudas.” We both decided to keep our secrets to ourselves. The first day out, we fished on Dub’s 20-foot boat and caught one- and two-pound bonefish. All was safe. Jenny didn’t have to wade fish, and the smaller bones, while still quite feisty, didn’t prompt any outburst from me.

The next day we went for the big boys, wading up to schools of bones with fins barely poking out of the water that looked like miniature sailboats in a regatta. Jenny, an excellent fisherman, hooked a large one on her first try, a solid 8-pound bonefish. The only problem was, as she stood in clear blue water up to her thighs, she wanted Dubs and me to track her fish and yell directions while she watched the surrounding waters for some man-eating barracuda that her bonefish in distress might attract. I wanted to enjoy poking fun at her, but it was short lived when Dubs said he, too, was terrified of barracudas. We celebrated when Jenny landed her trophy with all 10 fingers and toes intact!

Now it was my turn. As Dubs did with Jenny, he stood right beside me to guide my casting. That part went well, but every time I had a strike, I snatched the fly out of the fish’s mouth. I tried to remain calm and set the hook, but fish after fish, I kept missing. I cast again and Dubs, in his kindness, saddled up closer to me with his cheek only inches from mine as we leaned over my line. Strip, strip, strip. Another fish hit.

“Steady,” Dubs said, still cheek to cheek. Remaining momentarily calm, I hooked the fish with a short tug of my line, the fish took off like a freight train, and then it happened. That bloodcurdling scream came bubbling out with no restraint. It swirled around Dub’s head and lifted straight up to the heavens. Certain that his worst nightmare of a Godzilla barracuda coming to eat him alive, Dubs took off high stepping it across the thigh deep water to get to his skiff. Jenny was no help as she was doubled over, struggling to breathe in her fits of laughter.

After a few moments, I settled into fighting this amazing fish; Jenny motioned for Dubs to come help me land it; and, finally, I too caught a nice bonefish that I still enjoy reliving.

As you turn to page 84, I hope the opening shot of the redfish swirling on top of the surface gives you a moment of awe — wondering just what it might be like to hook into an exciting fight for a short while, giving you a memory for a lifetime.

And if you give a little grunt or maybe a yelp when you hook a fish, think of me.

Emily Clay





A new story about the old textile mill era

By Deena C. Bouknight

9780062313119-2From 1899 to 1996, cotton goods were in production at Olympia Mill in Columbia, one of four cotton mills in Columbia. At one time, it was the largest cotton mill in the world under one roof.

The South was home to dozens of cotton mills before cheaper labor and resources became readily available outside the United States. Many small but once-thriving towns throughout southeastern states eventually quieted, or became forsaken vestiges. While the mill town flourished, so did a distinct way of life and culture. Wilmington, North Carolina-based author, Wiley Cash, who is also writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina – Asheville, captures the fortitude of the everyday mill worker in his new novel, The Last Ballad.

The main setting is Gaston County, near Charlotte, in the 1920s, but the primary character Ella May Wiggins works in “the countless mills in both Carolinas.” When she arrives in Gaston County, described as running “on textiles,” there is another reference to the importance of the mills as a way of life for many Southerners: “Everyone across North Carolina, perhaps everyone in the South, knew this about the place that had come to be known as ‘the City of Spindles.’”

Ella May represents countless women of the time. Her parents died, she married young, immediately began having children, and was whisked away from her hometown by a husband who thought mill life would secure them. Yet, he decides that moonshine distribution and carousing are better for him than mill work, so she is left toiling grueling hours for a paltry income.

The Last Ballad’s omniscient narrator describes Ella May witnessing a gruesome machine accident at the mill; coming home exhausted only to care for sickly children watched daily by her 11-year-old and perpetually needing food, clothing, and other basics. But the main point of the story is Ella May’s courage to join the highly controversial National Textile Workers Union – considered communistic and anti-American by many (especially mill owners) at the time. Ella May desired a standard wage to get herself and her brood of four (and another on the way) out of poverty’s grasp.

Though relatively uneducated, Ella May understands innately the concept of fairness. She also recognizes condescension. She is a responsible, committed worker but occasionally has to ask for a shift off to tend to sickness suffered by one of her children. Her boss’s uncaring and unsympathetic attitude is the impetus she needs to challenge mill authority and way of life. She knows she could be fired for even thinking of joining a union, but union organizers are convincing.

The book gets its name from Ella May’s simple song, scrawled in pencil on a scrap of paper, about joining a union for the sake of children and their futures. When she is asked to deliver the song during the rally, she shrinks. But remembering her wage of $9 a week for six full work days, she reconsiders. What results is a beautiful ballad with convicting lyrics that not only spellbinds the audience, but garners media attention. She visited the rally to learn more about the union but instantly becomes the face of the union. “Ella’s senses awakened to the noise coming from the crowds: people cheered, whistled and pointed, called her name and chanted union slogans.”

The Last Ballad is both beautifully tragic and interestingly historic. It lauds mill workers from a bygone industrial era while at the same time spotlighting dynamics and conflicts between the weighty influence of paternal mill possessors and the sometimes overzealous ideals of union organizers.

Hop On! Hop Off!

IMG_14845-970x545.jpgThe Comet (a.k.a. Soda Cap Connector) is covenient way to peruse Columbia

By Deena C. Bouknight

Have you seen the buses around town painted retro blue with pink accents? This is Columbia’s novel transit system aimed at moving from tired to trendy with regard to public in-city transportation. Whether visiting the capital city for the first time, getting a feel for the area’s main roads and routes, commuting to work or school, or enjoying time at one of the many restaurants, shops, or sites, The Comet – also known as Soda Cap Connector – offers a comfortable and enjoyable ride.

The nickname, Soda Cap Connector, comes from the play on “cola town” as the shortened name for Columbia. And then there is the Soda City market, which has become a hub of activity every Saturday on Main Street. Included in The Comet’s logo design is a starBusSign that represents the stars on the South Carolina State House capitol building. Throughout town are large soda cap shaped signs, painted the same retro blue as The Comet buses, that tout the Soda Cap Connector logo; these signs indicate transit stops, and underneath is listed information about where the bus is scheduled to stop next.

Besides clean, comfortable, air-conditioned or heated (depending on weather), and graphically appealing, The Comet offers users real-time bus locators through its app, which can be downloaded on a smartphone or tablet. Users also have access to free WiFi, and there is space for bikes. Plus, has easy-to-understand information on how to read the schedule and find the best route.

The Comet stops at such points of interest as the South Carolina State Museum, the University of South Carolina, the Columbia Museum of Art, Five Points, area universities, and more. An entire route takes about 20 minutes, with stops every few minutes. Passengers can pick up colorful maps that include routes and times.

Prices are from $1.50 for a one-time regular fare to $3.00 to ride all day. A 31-day pass is $40.00. Half-priced passes are available to those who qualify; criteria includes disabilities, veterans, seniors over 65, and those on Medicare. (Anyone interested in a half pass must make an appointment at the Lowell C. Spires Jr. Regional Transit Authority at 3613 Lucius Road.) And, children 15 years old and younger ride The Comet for free.

To pay a fare, either have exact change when entering The Comet or purchases passes at the customer service desk of the North Main Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Other options include buying tickets at the Transit Center on the corner of Sumter and Laurel Street or on the Catch the COMET smartphone app.

Touted on The Comet website is this statement: “It’s out with the old and in with the new. And when we say new, we mean everything. Just see for yourself. The totally new COMET. It’s gonna be one heck of a ride.”




Let Them Eat Cake

By Margaret Clay

It is always exciting when we begin production on one of our biannual bridal issues. Everyone loves pouring over the beautiful photography, marveling at the creative choices expressive of the bride and groom, and reading the heartwarming story of their romance.

As children, when my sisters and I were lucky enough to accompany our parents to a wedding, the topic that consumed our eager anticipation was always the wedding cake. The ceremony would surely be lovely, the flowers beautiful, and the first dance charming, but we viewed everything as building to an ultimate climax — the cutting of the cake. Would it be the traditional “wedding cake” vanilla flavor? Almond? Perhaps a hint of lemon? And most importantly, would it have the sugary, almost crunchy icing?

Helen, my youngest sister, perfected the art of scoring the most icing possible per slice. She was a petite child and would wait in the wings as the caterer cut and served a tier of the cake. When they reached the end, she would slip in and secure the last piece, a veritable sheet of icing.

This penchant for capturing enviable slices of wedding cake seems to stem from a genetic predisposition. At my parents’ wedding in 1984, they set down the premier slice to enjoy the interlocked sip of champagne first. When they turned back to feed each other their first bites, the plate had disappeared without a trace. It was only when they received their photography back two months later that they apprehended the culprit — in the photo of their celebratory champagne toast, while everyone’s attention was diverted on the happy couple, my then 3-year-old cousin was captured peeping around the skirt of the table with arm outstretched, her fingers gripping the plate.

Young girls have long held wedding cake as a special object of desire. The tradition of their taking a piece home to sleep on (and thereby dream of their future husbands) dates back to the 17th century. Another favorite, time-honored tradition is that of preserving the top tier for the first anniversary celebration. This originates from the 19th century custom of saving it for the first child’s christening, but later, when couples began waiting to start their families, evolved into an anniversary festivity. My mother was so enamored with the concept of wedding cake on their anniversary that she decided to make it a yearly tradition and for years would order a small, one-tiered cake from Parkland Bakery.

Whether you have a wedding-filled calendar this summer or not, vicariously enjoy the beautiful celebrations featured on pages 40 and 54 in this issue while looking forward to your next opportunity for wedding cake!